WRESTLERS. It is now the time for you to make the most of your off season! If you are looking to get STRONGER, more EXPLOSIVE, and develop greater POWER this off season, sign up today! This training program is guaranteed to help you increase your athletic performance on the mat going into next season.
This a training program created for wrestlers, designed by a wrestling coach and competitive grappling athlete, me! I have taken what I have tested, and experimented over the past seven years, combined with training and learning from some of the best wrestlers and strength coaches in the world to bring you a comprehensive and detailed training program to help you become a greater wrestler this off season. GREAT wrestlers all put in the work over the off season. Going from the JV team to the Varsity lineup, or missing the second day of Masters to qualifying for the state tournament over the course of one season, is not easy. It takes work, and a body that can dominate the competition through superior wrestling ability and greater strength and power.
Achieve your goals on the mat, by putting in the #dailydiscipline in the weight room. Sign up for Settlage Bodybuilding ONLINE today! Hit the “Subscribe Now” button to join the team today! (Click here for mobile users).
Recently I had the pleasure of sitting in on a couple interviews and a podcast with one of the most prolific strength coaches in the game, and at one time the youngest person to ever bench press 600lbs, Josh Bryant (@jailhousestrong) when he passed through Sacramento to visit Mark Bell’s Super Training Gym. I bought a notebook and took as many copious notes as possible. Here are the word for word notes I jotted down while I was learning from one of the best strength coaches on the planet.
Very individualized programs. Each athlete is different and has different needs.
Usually programs 2 bench days/week: 1 heavy, 1 speed/accessory
Favorite Bench Press Accessory Exercises: Dead Bench Press, heavy dips, Spoto Press, Isometric Pushes & Pulls
Dead Bench Press: Perform singles with 10s of rest between sets.
Spoto Press: Forces you to stay tight and produce maximum tension.
Isometric Pushes/Pulls: –
Helps overcome sticking points.
Press/Pull into pins for 4-6s, then immediately follow with a full ROM exercise.
Effective for 6-8 weeks during meet prep. Beginner/Intermediate for the most part can do these at any time in their training and see positive results.
Can help produce 15% more force for longer durations.
Can also be used to develop strength at certain ranges.
Used in bodybuilding for maximum muscle recruitment/activation.
Helps develop compensatory acceleration.
Programs 3 heavy weeks, 1 “reload” week.
“Be a whore for results.”
“Do not be married to any one way of doing something.”
“Experience does not dictate competency.”
Use push ups to increase chest volume on a second chest day.
“Fast Gainers” can not handle as much volume due to their neural efficiency.
Use volume through hypertrophy training to build up a base to then build strength. > “Best way to increase strength is to build up muscle mass.”
For Bodybuilding pose between sets for mind muscle connection.
Did a lot of crazy volume training when at Metroflex Gym with Branch Warren and Brian Dobson.
Spent time in hardcore gyms since the age of 16.
Dr. Fred Hatfield was a personal mentor and friend of his.
Learned about compensatory acceleration from Dr. Hatfield, holder of many powerlifting records, bodybuilding titles, strongman and Olympic Weightlifting achievements.
Dr. Hatfield told him, “You’ve got to expand your worldview.” This applies to training and everyday life.
Josh also looked up to the likes of Ed Coan, and Bill Kazmaier.
He was persistent and hunted out Ed Coan’s personal phone number at 18 years old to then call him to ask him about training.
Learned and trained with Gary Frank. “The strongest guy I’ve ever worked with.”
Former track & field athlete.
Would routinely undergo 6-8 hour workouts 2x/week.
Being a fly on the wall to learn from Josh Bryant was an absolute pleasure. He is such a deep wealth of knowledge in regards to the iron game. To learn more from Josh Bryant, I highly suggest checking out his extensive YouTube channel which you can find here. I am looking forward to reading more of his books Jailhouse Strong, Grapple Strong, and his latest release, Keto Built among many other collaborations with Dr. Hatfield. If you want to learn how to get STRONG for either powerlifting, strongman, bodybuilding or every day life, Josh is a great resource to look into.
Hope you enjoyed reading some of my personal notes from my experience last week. If you are down with this shorter format blog posts with just my personal notes, comment below! I just might start pumping these shorter blog posts out once or twice a week!
For personalized workout programs, customized nutrition plans, detailed meal prep guides, or access to Settlage Bodybuilding ONLINE, or Settlage Wrestling ONLINE, email me at email@example.com. Follow me on Instagram, @joshuasettlage, for everything strength and conditioning.
The people have spoken. Based on the results of a poll I posted on my Instagram, the majority of you voted for me to post more articles in regards to nutrition. For the next several weeks I will be discussing different aspects of nutrition and how it pertains to my personal training and beliefs. This article will go through a brief history of the previous diets I have tried in the past. Let’s get to it.
Whole Life Challenge:8 Weeks
I first began this diet when my wrestling coach asked me to join him in participating in a nutrition and training challenge. The diet was a traditional Paleolithic diet. My food came from only meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruit. Liquids consisted of only water. This lasted for 8 weeks and during those weeks I was not allowed to have any treat meals. During this time, I weighed 135lbs and an estimated body fat percentage of 10-12%.
I loved this diet. Previous to this experience, I wasn’t eating terribly, but it was not something to brag about either. This uber strict and restrictive diet was just what I needed to reset my nutritional habits. During this time, not only did I have more energy than my previous sugar based/junk food diet, my workout performance improved, I was sleeping all the way through the night, my stomach aches went away, and my focus at school was the best it had ever been.
The negative effects of this diet is that it is not sustainable for long periods of time. Nor is it appropriate for athletes under high training volume and frequency. There is not enough carbohydrates in the diet to promote recovery between intense training sessions. It was a great way to kick myself into shape and build those healthy habits as I simultaneously kicked the unhealthy ones.
Paleo/Primal Diet: 2013- April 2015
After completing the Whole Life Challenge, I adapted to the Paleo/Primal diet. I added back milk to my fluids and occasional potato and sweet potato as carbohydrates into my diet. In the beginning, I allowed myself two treat DAYS. When I say days, I mean days. I would spend all day gorging myself. After a year of following this protocol, I decided to limit myself to two treat MEALS a week. This helped my digestion and didn’t leave me on the floor wanting to puke Friday and Saturday. During these years I was training in CrossFit several times a day and my conditioning was great, but my strength sucked. I would struggle to squat anything over 200lbs, and would completely avoid strength work in workouts. In 2013 I trained for the Fittest of Roseville competition. Thankfully there were no pure strength events, mostly conditioning based events. I was able to secure a first place finish (the only other competitor was me and my friend from wrestling).
During this time I weighed about 138-140lbs and had a body fat of 7%. I think this diet is great for overall health. If you stick with it, your body will adjust from using primarily carbohydrates as a fuel source to using fat. I felt great using this diet, and when I was sidelined from CrossFit training due to injury and couldn’t train as hard, I was able to maintain a healthy body fat percentage and still be relatively lean. Someone who trains about 4-5 times per week, and works a sedentary job could benefit a lot from this type of diet.
See Food Diet/Dirty Bulk: May 2015-Dec 2015
If you have read my previous article on What I’ve Learned About Bulking, you may be familiar with this stage of my life. During this time I was solely focused on powerlifting and bodybuilding to become as strong as I possibly could and as big as I possibly could. In the name of bulking, I pretty much ate whatever I wanted. I had lots of chicken, oatmeal, protein shakes, rice, whole milk, and eggs. I ate relatively clean throughout the week and allowed myself two treat meals a week. Those treat meals would routinely turn into days. I never tracked macros and monitored my portion sizes. I just ate till I felt really full, even stuffed. Based off observation, I’d say I was close to 20% body fat. A good thing that came out of this poor bulking method was, my squat went up 50lbs. I realized later wasn’t due to an addition of real muscle. I started at a body weight of 143lbs and ended at a lifetime high of 176lbs.
I know this was not the right way I should have gone about trying to bulk up, but it was a great learning experience. I would not suggest someone take this same approach and make the same mistakes I did. Instead, read the article above and learn from my mistakes. Do not just eat to make the number on the scale go up. Eat to gain functional weight, not useless fat.
A typical day of eating would be a Lara Bar and coffee in the morning before my workout. After my workout I would have a protein shake with 1 scoop protein, 1 scoop uncooked oats, 2 cups whole milk. After I finished my shake I would have 6 eggs. Lunch was usually a chicken breast with 2 cups of rice and 250g of Madras Lentil soup. My afternoon snack was lots of nuts and dried fruit. Dinner was the same as lunch, and I would have a second protein shake without the oats right before bed. This resulted in my gaining 33lbs in six months.
Learn from my mistakes. There are better ways to go about bulking and building size and strength.
Following my long bulk, I decided to lean out and compete in a bodybuilding show. I went from eating whatever I wanted to a much more restrictive and detailed nutrition plan. I am a fan of Cory Gregory’s unconventional training methods, as well as his content on nutrition. He talked about how he wanted to create a diet that allowed him to have abs and drink beer on the weekends. After hearing this, I was interested. Enter, Anabolic Fasting (AF).
AF follows several principles from the anabolic diet and is in the time frame of intermittent fasting. The goal of AF was to eat a high protein, high fat lunch and dinner meal, to increase our insulin sensitivity. We wanted to increase our insulin sensitivity so we could “spike” right before bed with a high carb, high fat meal. This spike in insulin to help promote recovery during sleep and reap the benefit of an anabolic response every night. All this was in addition to fasting for 14-16 hours everyday.
I must say I loved this diet for many reasons. It felt great to fast. Fasting helped my metabolism increase, and I just felt clear headed, and alert throughout the day. Since my lunch meals consisted of carbohydrates only from vegetables, I would no longer have those afternoon crashes I would experience when I had that heavy rice and lentil meal from the last diet. The carb spike (usually banana and peanut butter) at night not only replenish my glycogen stores before bed so I was ready to train at 5:00am the next morning, but also tasted so good I rarely craved any junk during the week. During this time I was not only a full time student, but was trying to balance three jobs. Fasting during the morning saved me lots of time when I had to get ready for the day.
The only problems I had with the diet was when I began going back to grappling training. I went from only training in the gym for two hours in the morning, to training in the morning and for 1-2 additional hours of grappling in the evening. This amount of volume left me feeling exhausted at the end of training. I felt like I had no drive and explosiveness. My endurance was better than some, but nothing to brag about. Do to the fast, my appetite really decreased and I wasn’t eating as much. Normally that is fine if you are looking to just lose body fat. Your appetite will decrease and that’s natural. However, I was training so hard so often, I wasn’t getting in all the nutrients I needed to properly recover. I would fast for 14-16 hours and eat 1 chicken breast, a bell pepper, and some almonds to be left completely stuffed. As you can tell that is not a lot of food for someone training minimum of three hours a day.
I believe if someone were to partake in this diet, I would highly recommend they pay attention to their training volume as well as how they snack throughout the day. When I did this diet, I probably could have snacked on nuts or veggies a lot more often so I have some sort of fuel for training in the evening.
IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros): 2017-2018
I first began IIFYM as means to try out a new format of bulking up. At the time i had just completed a 10lb weight cut and was very lean. I had done my weight cut following the AF diet listed above. I was feeling like crap from all the training I was doing and new something needed to change. I knew I did not have the self control to just add carbs back in and eyeball everything. I did not want to fall into the same dirty bulk habits that I had experienced previously. I had heard a lot about flexible dieting and macro counting from the likes of Layne Norton, Alberto Nunez and Matt Ogus. I figured I would give it a shot for a month or two, track the results and in the end if I didn’t like it I could always go back to AF.
I started this diet in May of 2017, weighing 155 lbs with a body fat of 7.5%. My starting macros were…
Protein: 1g/lb of bodyweight
Carbohydrates: 1.5glb of bodyweight
Fat: Did not set a target number to hit each day. I instead only consumed fat from animal sources and nuts.
I followed this diet for 6 months. I tracked my weight everyday and when my weight stalled for 2 weeks straight, I would increase my protein and carbohydrate intake by .25g/lb of bodyweight. At the end of the six months I weighed 173lbs, still had some abs, and a body fat of 14%. This was the most successful bulk I had ever done. I was able to be flexible and enjoy the foods I wanted to eat from time to time. I mostly ate lots of chicken, steak, ground beef, eggs, milk, butter, nuts, seeds, rice and occasionally bread. I did not limit myself to a concrete number of treat meals, but just made sure I stayed within +/- 10g of my target marcos for the day.
The negative aspects of this diet come in the form of self control, or lack thereof. It did take about a week or two for me to really develop the self control needed to eat primarily clean foods that contributed to my performance. Because I could technically eat whatever I wanted as long as it fit within my macros, I once made the mistake of eating a large pancake breakfast in the morning. The pancake breakfast made up for about 50% of my allotted carbohydrates for the entire day. I still had lunch and dinner coming up and had to limit myself to very small amounts of carbohydrates. Once I developed the self control to occasionally have a treat, I was able to manage my macros much better throughout the day.
IIFYM + The Vertical Diet: Jan. 18’-current
After becoming very familiar with how my body performed and responded to the IIFYM, I decided to take the same approach to how I went through a cutting phase. During this time, I was transitioning to a new jiu jitsu gym where I would be training much more often and ultimately wanted to get back to competing seriously. In research of how to improve my own training and optimize my performance in the gym and on the mat, I came across lots of great content from Stan “The Rhino” Efferding (you can find Stan on Instagram, @stanefferding). In his many appearances on different strength and conditioning podcasts, he mentions how he used to train with the legendary Flex Wheeler. Stan had noted how Flex took Stan from eating primarily chicken as a protein source, to steak. In this transition, Stan found he looked better on a steak based diet, than he ever did on a chicken based diet, and performed better in the gym too. There is obviously a lot more to this and Stan’s Vertical Diet, and you can find more info on this at his website, TheKooler.com.
I decided to take my own diet from being primarily centered around chicken as a source of protein, to steak/ground beef like Stan did. I started with 8 oz of ground beef with 1 cup of rice for lunch and dinner for about two weeks straight. Sure enough, I was losing weight while still keeping the size I had worked so hard for previously. I was becoming much more shredded, and felt better in the gym and on the mat. I have stuck to this ground beef and rice combo for a few months now and my body has become highly proficient at digesting it. After about 6 weeks of eating 8 oz of ground beef per meal, I found myself being left starving after an hour or two after eating. I knew it was time to increase my ground beef intake. I added 2 more oz of ground beef to my meals and to my suprise did not gain weight. I actually lost more weight (keep in mind I am still training 2-3 times per day) to my metabolism increasing. I went from weighing 167-170lbs when I first transitioned to a steak based diet to 160lbs. I am right on track to make the weight cut for my next tournament in May. My current body fat is at 10% and I am stronger now than I have ever been at this lower body weight.
The negative side to this diet is that it is very repetitive. I do not mind eating the same thing over and over, day in and day out. However, not everyone is wired this way and it can be difficult to maintain this diet. This diet is often used by several high performing strength athletes. Those athletes do what is necessary to become the best, even if it means eating steak and rice everyday. I want to become the best grappler I can be and do not mind the monotony of these foods as long as it means I will perform better.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience with other diets. I briefly touched on all of these diets and there is a lot more information to each of them. If you have any questions about these diets, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to open up a discussion! Also, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, @joshuasettlage to see my everyday training and nutrition!
Unless you were at the state tournament this past weekend, your wrestling season has been over for at least a week. During this last week you could have spent your time doing any number of postseason celebrations. Eating large dinners with no concern about weight, staying up late and sleeping in later, as well as going straight home after school to relax. All that is good and necessary for the body and mind to regather themselves from the several long months of intense training. This time of rest does not last forever though. For you wrestlers who are serious competitors, chances are this feeling did not even last more than a week. You are already thinking about how to avenge losses, what camps to go to, what freestyle and greco tournaments you want to do, etc. This article will help you identify your weaknesses, find proper places to train, how to eat, and ultimately, how to make the most of out this offseason so you can be an even greater wrestler next season.
Before you even take your first steps back into the wrestling room, you need to clearly set and identify your goals. Visualize what you want to achieve next season. Maybe it is to stay on the Varsity line up, or never get pinned, or qualify for Masters. The goals you set for the next season, build the framework for how you tackle this off season. Do not go into the wrestling room without a purpose. Do not go into the weight room without a purpose. Set a goal, visualize yourself achieving that goal while you put in the work to get there.
The first thing you can always do to become a better wrestler is to actually wrestle. Get some friends who are experienced wrestlers together and wrestle at the park, or in the living room. Having a training partner you can practice technique with will make you both better and give you an edge against the competition. Practice all the moves you suck at or want to get better at. Look at technique videos and drill, drill, drill. Carey Kolat is a legendary wrestler and has a vast technique library on his YouTube channel.
Some schools have a wrestling club that practices and competes in the off season. I am located in Sacramento, and there is just about a wrestling club at every high school in the area. I am a strength and conditioning consultant, and JV wrestling coach for Roseville High School who has over the years developed a very experienced and large wrestling club that practices and lifts weights several times a week in the off season. If you are in the Roseville, CA area feel free to reach out to me on how you can join the wrestling club.
Another option is to attend wrestling clinics and wrestling camps. I had the pleasure of attending several camps and clinics over the course of my wrestling career. Some of my bread and butter techniques that I still use in BJJ today were learned at these clinics or camps. Camps and clinics do cost a decent amount of money to attend. If you don’t have to money, you can WORK. Working won’t kill you. If you are in high school, you are plenty old enough to get a job. Mow lawns, wash cars, walk dogs, etc. Someone is always willing to pay a young kid to do the work they are too old to do.
In addition to refining your technique and wrestling more, you need to get stronger. No matter what your weight is, your skill level, win/loss record, you still need to get stronger. Mark Bell has a very famous quote that I wish I applied to my off season training. Bell famously says, “Strength is never a weakness.” You can never be too strong. Sure you can be short on conditioning, but you can never be too strong. Get STRONG. Lift heavy weights several times a week. Do squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, pull ups, bent over rows, farmer walks, push ups, dips, etc. That being said, don’t skip out on your conditioning maintenance. Do some sprint intervals about 1-2x/week. Keep in mind how I said sprint. You wrestle for six minutes, not 30. There’s little need for you to go on these crazy long runs if your main goal is to get as strong as possible this off season. Do anywhere between 10-20 rounds of sprint work per workout/week. This is actually my favorite part of training wrestlers. My ultimate passion is to help them get stronger for the next season. I train wrestlers to become stronger and bigger season after season, while still being in a competitive weight class. Just like you should find a training partner to drill with, find a training partner to lift with. You can push each other and keep each other accountable to stay disciplined and train.
You want to find a gym that has Olympic barbells and dumbbells of varying weights. Using only machines will never make you as strong as REAL weight. I have trained out of my garage for many years and I do not have any weight machines. I have barbells, dumbbells, kettle bells, rings, pull up bars, bands, etc. All my clients use this equipment and get stronger. No machines needed. I am in no way saying machines are bad for you. Machines are great for other sports and training needs. But if you want to get strong, use the tools that give you the biggest bang for your buck.
I specialize in training wrestlers both in season and during the off season. For more information on programs, 1-on-1 and group training sessions at my facility, email me at email@example.com for schedule and pricing.
In addition to all the wrestling and lifting you need to be EATING. You are no longer in season so there is no need to stay in your weight class. Do not gain an excessive amount of body fat, but gain some weight. Put some some quality size and muscle. To do that you need to eat. You can’t build a tank out of aluminum foil, and you can not build a strong and powerful wrestler with junk food. Eat lean meats, eggs, drink milk, lots of vegetables, nuts and seeds, and some fruit. Stay away from soda, breads, pastas, chips, fast food and processed sugars. It will take discipline. It will be difficult at first, but if you are serious about becoming a better wrestler next season, you will need to sacrifice things like junk food to do it.
When I train wrestlers in the off season, I also provide them specific nutritional guides to help them build the muscle they want to build, develop the conditioning they need, and put on the size they are looking for. For more information on eating clean for size and strength, you can look at some of my other articles in regards to nutrition, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further questions.
With these three tips in mind, go attack and take advantage of this off season! I made the biggest improvements during the off season, not during the season. I made a lot of mistakes during my off seasons, which I will talk about in the next article. For more information on strength and conditioning for wrestling athletes, follow me on Instagram at @settlagestrength. To see my daily workouts and lifestyle focused around #dailydiscipline, follow my personal account @joshuasettlage.
For personalized wrestling training programs, nutrition guides for both strength gain and fat loss, 1-on-1 and group training sessions, feel free to email me at email@example.com for a consultation.
If you are a wrestler from California, you have just finished your divisional tournament. If you are moving on to Masters you are just a few days away from the hardest tournament of the season up to this point. If you have read my last two articles, you have learned how to properly cut weight, and how to prevent most injuries you might sustain during this postseason. I’m going to be frank and inform you that you will not get any better between now and the Masters tournament. You can not get any stronger, you can’t get any faster, and your skills as a wrestler will not make any groundbreaking changes in the next few days. That being said, you are still training hard to make sure your body is in peak condition to wrestle at optimal performance. You can not do anything to get any better at the sport of wrestling these next few days, but there is a lot you can do to make yourself a whole lot worse.
What I am talking about, is recovery. How you recover from training can make the difference between you waking up Friday morning on weight, fresh and ready to wrestle, and you being off weight, sore, and sluggish. Here are some simple and easy things you can start doing TODAY to maximize your recovery from training sessions. Sure you can go to a massage therapist, or go to your local cryotherapy joint, but recovery methods that are done to you are rarely more effective as the recovery methods you do yourself.
MOVEMENT & MOBILITY.
Sound familiar? Yes, mobility is a great way to prevent injury, but it is also a great way to recover from training. Here is a great example: When I do my 20 rep squats, I always make sure I take some time immediately following the workout during my cool down, and also before bed to foam roll my legs. This helps decrease some of the muscles of my lower body will experience the following days.
I will also walk. Now after a hard training session you might think that laying down and resting is how to properly recover. Laying down to sleep is a great way to recover. However sitting around in the same position all day doing nothing is not. Studies have shown that light movement that provides blood flow to the area promotes healing and recovery. Increased blood flow to the damaged muscles within the same day of training helps them repair faster by flushing out any residual lactic acid and bring in more white blood cells. These white blood cells contribute to the rebuilding and repair of the muscle tissue. Soreness is caused largely in part by swelling of the muscles due to an abundance of white blood cells. A tool I use to help with promoting blood flow is a electrical stem unit (shown above). This electrically stimulates the muscles forcing rapid contractions, thus helping flush out lactic acid and bringing more blood flow to the area. This is not a necessity, but it sure is convenient.
After a hard weight lifting workout, I will usually go for a walk, or spend 10-20 minutes rolling out whatever was trained previously. After grappling training, I will make sure to take my body through some range of motion exercises. Stuff like air squats, PVC pass throughs, lunges with an overhead stretch, etc.
I tell just about all my clients this short mantra: Muscles are broken down in the gym, refueled in the kitchen, and rebuilt during sleep. What you put into your body immediately following training is crucial to the start of the recovery process. After a hard two hour long wrestling practice, you’re beat. Your lungs are burned out, your shoulders are dead, legs heavy, and neck sore. Immediately following training, your body is primed to take in nutrients, immediately begin to use them to refuel those muscles and utilize those nutrients efficiently. After training you should be looking to take in some form of what I call clean carbohydrates to refuel glycogen stores and something that will help in repairing muscle. Real food is the best option for you. Having a banana and some chicken post training is perfect. You can leave the wrestling room, wash your hands, and crush that banana and chicken. In layman’s terms, your body will take most of the carbohydrates from banana and turn them into glycogen to be placed back into the muscle. The protein from the chicken is used to be part of the rebuilding process in muscle repair and protein synthesis.
If you can not have real food right away after practice, some supplementation can be used. In my own grappling training I will bring a shaker cup with some BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids), to mix with water and drink in the car on the way home. BCAA’s are basically broken down protein molecules that do not have to be further broken down to be used for recovery and muscle repair.
Imagine you have a LEGO structure you are building. Every time you need more LEGO’s someone hands a fully built set. To get the pieces you need, you must break down the set, pick the pieces you need, and then apply them to your own structure. This takes way longer than if someone just handed you a tub full of disconnected pieces. Using BCAA’s when real food is not available is a great way to help with recovery from training.
(I currently use FNX Supplements BCAA’s. I just take one scoop and mix it with water. You can find the product here. Use promo code, “FNXJOSH” for 15% your order.) If you can not get real food in you right away after training and are in need of carbohydrates post training, dextrose is a cheap and easy option. You can throw some in with your BCAA’s.
REAL FOOD IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN A SUPPLEMENT. Having real food post training might take some extra planning and preparation. If you made it this far already, you should be taking matters into your own hands and doing whatever you need to perform your best.
The final and arguably the best thing you can do for recovery is to sleep. It is during sleep where you body recovers the most. Simply sleeping longer is a great place to start. During these last few weeks of the season, look to get a minimum of 8 hours of quality sleep per night. This means even on the weekends. You only have about two weeks left in the season. You can afford to skip hanging out with friends, partying, and playing video games, for two weeks.
Your quality of sleep can be greatly affected by what you do before you turn the lights off. Some low hanging fruit to improve sleep are… 1) Do look at a screen two hours before bedtime. I know that seems just near impossible today’s day and age, but hear me out. When you are on your phone, on the computer or watching TV, your eyes are exposed to blue light. This artificial blue light basically tricks your brain into thinking it is day time still and needs to be fired up and ready to go. Eliminating exposure to this blue light helps stimulate your parasympathetic nervous systems which down regulates your body and helps you relax. Two hours before bed, stop watching TV, stop playing video games, and turn your phone on night shift. 2) Turn all the lights off in your room. A light no matter how small, can affect your sleep. It can prevent your ability to fall into a deep REM sleep. 3) You can also mobilize before bed to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. Like I said before, the parasympathetic nervous system is what is responsible for down regulating your body and your mind and preparing you for relaxation and sleep.
I do not believe that overtraining is a common occurrence in high level athletics, just under recovery. If you don’t recover enough, you are sapping performance and risk not being 100% on game day. Give these recovery methods a shot and prime your body to perform it’s best for this next step on the road to state.
For more information and a peek into my daily life, workouts, and personal nutrition, follow me on Instagram, @joshuasettlage.
For all your wrestlers, the road to state is upon you. Based on your performance at League Finals, you are now preparing to move on to divisionals or the Masters tournament. If you have been training hard, pushing yourself on the mat, cutting weight, and everything in between to make yourself better, chances are you have encountered some bumps and bruises. You got banged up a bit and have a nagging injury or a tweaked something or other. Here are some of my favorite ways to prevent injury and mend the bumps and bruises before I go from just being hurt, to being injured.
I should not even have to say this, but you as an athlete must know the difference between being hurt and being injured. If you are working hard to make it to the state tournament, you should know by now that you will have to compete while being hurt and banged up. It is part of the sport. I am not a doctor and am not trying to be one on the internet. If you have a legitimate injury that needs professional medical attention, do as the professionals say. These following tips are things that have worked for me in the past when I was HURT, not injured, and have a decent amount of evidence supporting them.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
Now that is out of the way, let me start off by saying that staying injury free is 90% of the time easily preventable as long as you listen to your body. Sure, freak accidents happen, but you know when something is bugging you, a little achy, or tight, and you keep pushing it. Sure enough, something rips, tears, dislocates, or breaks. Listen to your body and monitor your training accordingly. At the start of each day, shake things out to see where you are at. Know your limitations for the day, do the adequate mobility work to look for improvement in the joint or muscle. If you are still banged up by practice time, let your partner know and work around it.
My junior year of wrestling I had competed in a tournament about two weeks out from league finals. At that tournament, I tweaked my shoulder pretty good and had a hard time reaching overhead, basing up, or getting sprawled on. I should have listened to my body, and taken it easy on the moves, techniques, exercises, that caused pain in that shoulder, as well as let my training partner know to watch out for that shoulder. However, I did not. What resulted was me still trying to go hard in the paint for a week, and having a small hurt shoulder turn into an injured one. This all happened in the two weeks leading up to league finals and the day before the tournament I had to pull out. Do not go so hard in the paint, that the paint dries up.
Listen to your body. Communicate with your training partners and coaches. Do the adequate work to try to mend whatever is banged up. This leads me into the second tip.
2. DO YOUR MOBILITY WORK.
Mobility is more than just stretching. Mobility is means to help you be flexible through motion and all of it’s ranges. For example, reaching down and touching your toes does not do much in regards to helping your squat. You are simply stretching your tight hamstrings, not improving their ability to move and be flexible through motion. However, foam rolling the hamstrings and glutes is very beneficial to helping your squat mobility. Loosened up hamstrings help you not round your lumbar spine in the bottom of the whole and achieve a better depth.
This can be included in pre and post practice recovery work. You go to school, work, etc. go train and at the sound of that last whistle or bell, you pack up your stuff and go home to sit for several hours, letting your fatigued muscles grow tight. At the end of practice try foam rolling your T-spine (your back), try smashing your anterior deltoid (outer chest and front of shoulder) with a baseball or lacrosse ball, or find a wall to open up those hip flexors. Doing just a few minutes of mobility before practice can help you warm up and have better muscle contractions and agility, while post practice can kick start your recovery and prevent muscles from becoming stiff or sore after training.
Dr. Kelly Starrett has some of the most informational and popular mobility videos on the internet. His book, “Becoming a Supple Leopard” is full of techniques and methods of mobility for essentially everybody part. You can buy his book on Amazon here, and check out his extensive YouTube channel, here.
So you have been listening to your body at practice. Not pushing the limits of a particular joint that is feeling a bit achy. You told your training partner to watch out for this joint, cause it’s a little banged up (I know I say that a lot of will continue to say “banged up”). You do your mobility work both before practice, and during the cool down afterwards. Still after all this, you still have that nagging tweak. Something that I have used for almost every injury for years of lifting weights and wrestling, is heat. Whether it be a heating pad, sauna, steam room, hot shower, doesn’t matter. Heat helps promote blood flow. Blood and the fluids of the lymphatic system are what is largely responsible for healing and mending of injuries through bringing nutrients to the injured area.
Referring back to my shoulder injury my junior year, after the season had ended and still no luck on my shoulder getting better, I at first looked into how icing periodically throughout the day could help heal my shoulder. I came across a video that Dr. Starrett posted on his YouTube channel where he breaks down why we having the whole idea about icing wrong. You can watch it here. Icing freezes (pun intended) the joints and repeated use can cause the muscles to grow stiff. This is why during the peak of winter time you do not feel as loose at the start of practice until your hoodie is drenched in sweat, and the wrestling room has turned into a sauna.
Movement through range of motion is one of the best ways to heal the muscles around a joint, or the joint itself and an easy way to do that pain free is to heat up the area first. What I did in high school, and even still to this day is take a hot shower and slowly work my banged up joint through ranges of motion. I would do arm circles both directions, scarecrows, scapular retraction exercises, etc. If I did not have time to take a shower and dry off again, I would place a heating pad on the area of pain for about 10-15 minutes. Sure enough, after a couple weeks of doing this process two or three times a day, my shoulder was good as new. No ice needed.
I might do an article that goes more in depth about mobility and the use of heat therapy for healing minor injuries. There is a lot of science and research that supports these three tips, and from personal experience, all three have worked for me. Hope these three tips help you keep wrestling all the way through to the state tournament.
It is that time of year. Your last league dual meet has been completed and now your focus is on League Finals and the road to state. Thanks to the two pound allowance that was administered a couple weeks ago, you are planning on dropping to the next lowest weight class. If you are going to embark on such an endeavor, you must know some simple rules of weight cutting in a healthier, yet effective manner.
Before I continue, let me be clear that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on the internet. The following is a compilation of personal experience and research conducted by yours truly. Always consult a physician before partaking in any extreme weight loss procedures.
Back to my tips for weight cutting. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you are dropping weight each week on the road to state.
I know it sounds crazy. You would think that the best way to lose weight is to just stop eating. You are correct, you can lose a lot of weight by simply no longer eating paired with exercise. However, that is a sure way to sap performance, and though the quick drop in weight is nice, your weight will eventually stall out.
Food is fuel, bottom line. If you want to make a car lighter, you take off the heavier pieces and replace them with lighter ones, NOT by taking out all the gasoline. Your body acts in a similar way. After those hard training sessions in the wrestling room, your body needs fuel to recover and rebuild itself in preparation for the next hard training session. Your body is broken down in the wrestling room, refueled in the kitchen, and rebuilt during sleep. I tell all my athletes to continue eating a clean diet, even if they are trying to cut weight. Simply switching to healthy foods would guarantee a quick 2-3lb drop in a week or two.
A simple guideline to follow on what to eat when cutting weight would be… i. If it comes from the ground or has a mom it is probably good for you, ii. If it has more than three ingredients, it is probably bad for you. That is a great place to start if you are looking to make some healthy changes to your diet. Keep eating, just eat till your satisfied but not full. If you need to go for a run before bed to get a little sweat going and lose .5-1lb, do so. DO NOT STARVE YOURSELF.
2. COUNT ON LOSING WEIGHT DURING SLEEP
I can imagine that this also will sound crazy. You lose weight while you sleep. If you weigh yourself before bed and check your weight in the morning, you will notice that you would have lost some weight. Finding out the average amount of weight lost during sleep is a great tool to use when cutting weight. I know I lose about 2lbs during sleep. I compete at 155lbs when I cut weight. Knowing I lose about 2lbs from sleep, I now know that the night before morning weigh ins, I need to weigh 157lbs. This is usually my weight post dinner, and after about 45 mins light jog to lose a little weight from dinner and keep my metabolism up.
You do not need to be on weight the night before weigh ins, you only need to be on weight when you step on the scale. Track your weight every day and night for a week. Find the average amount of weight lost during sleep and factor that into your target weight the night before. If you need to run laps in the arena before weigh ins to lose a pound, it is not a big deal. You can lose a pound of water weight in 30-45 mins easy.
3. RE-HYDRATE PROPERLY.
So you made weight and are walking back to the stands to eat breakfast. What you decide to eat for breakfast plays a very important role in optimizing your performance after a serious weight cut. Immediately begin consuming fluids to rehydrate. Water is obviously a given. Try drinking close to a full water bottle before eating any solid foods. Having a good amount of water in your system will help with your digestion, and immediately begin the rehydration process. Sipping on Pedialyte along with water is another popular way to rehydrate due to the high content of electrolytes. However, drink this slow. There have been some cases of people drinking it too quickly and having the sharts or runs later on in the day.
You are also going to want to consume some form of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates help you pull water into the muscles. Carbohydrates also aid in the production of glycogen which is the fuel for the muscles. When your muscles are depleted of glycogen, your performance is sapped. Ever seen someone start off really strong in a tournament, and at the end are just a shell of themselves? They will be a conditioning machine in the first few rounds of the tournament, but by their fourth and fifth match they are just gassed. Much of that is due to the lack of glycogen or fuel in the muscle. Rehydrating properly, and consuming enough carbohydrates to refuel glycogen stores is crucial for optimal performance for a long day of wrestling.
There are obviously a lot more steps involved in a safe, successful weight cut. However, I will have to dive into those another time. Hope you find these three tips helpful if you are lost during your weight cut, or if you are a seasoned wrestler familiar with the weight cutting process. If you have any more questions about weight cutting or prepping for the road to the state wrestling tournament, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram, @joshuasettlage.
If you do not follow my Instagram account (@joshuasettlage), you have not seen my stories of me training with the high school wrestlers from my alma mater, Roseville High School. Working with these wrestlers has reminded me of my own wrestling training during high school. In those memories are the bitter memories of injuries. In doing jiu jitsu competitively, injuries are present as well. All these inspired me to talk about something I often get asked about: training through injury/what to do if you are injured.
I feel like I should not even have to say this, but before you ask you coach to sit out of wrestling practice, tell him/her you can’t wrestle today, or decide to not show up to your jiu jitsu training, ask yourself if you are hurt or injured. These are both contact sports with extreme levels of physicality and demand on the body. If you want to be competitive, you have to train while you’re hurt. I find it appalling the absence of tenacity, grit and discipline in wrestlers and jiu jitsu players saying they want to be the best, but will use a jammed finger, or sore throat as a reason to skip out on training. I’m not sorry if that sounds harsh. If you find this offensive, it is most likely because no one told you to suck it up and get back to training. So I’m telling you now, if you want to be the best, suck it up and get back to training.
Now that is out of the way, I can move on to what this article is really about. Imagine you just tweaked your knee in training. You were defending a takedown, and your partner reached for your ankle pulling it towards him/her while your hips were unable to move. They pulled it a little too far and you feel and concerning pop in your knee. You shake it off and finish out practice. You go home, ice it, heat it, compress it, etc. in hopes of full recovery by the time you wake up. Next morning it is swollen and completely stiff to the point when you walk, you are swinging your leg out to the side instead of flexing at the knee. Now you have a legitimate injury. What do you do? KEEP TRAINING. Now I do not mean, keep training takedowns and put yourself in the same position that caused the injury, but DO WHAT YOU CAN. Your knee is jacked up? Good. Time to work on pull ups. Your elbow is tweaked from an armbar? Perfect. Now go hit 500 air squats for time. Pulled something in your shoulder? Awesome. Go lunge for 15 minutes straight.
There is always something you can do. Unless you are in the hospital, find a way to keep training. I had a hurt wrist for most of my junior and senior year of high school. Some weeks it only hurt to put direct pressure on it like in a handstand position, other times it would shoot pain through out my forearm when I turned over the ignition in the car. What did I do? I couldn’t lift (I know… it was a dark and sad time), I could only do limited bodyweight exercises and running drills/workouts. That is exactly what I did. Box jumps, pistol squats, air squats, sprint intervals, broad jumps, and long distance runs. I was able to build up my conditioning and sprint faster than ever. I was somewhat more explosive and had improved my squat mobility tenfold. At wrestling practice I could push a high pace in a match, much longer than I ever could before.
The bottom line is that there is always something you can do. Do not waste time, pouting about how you can’t train. You might not be able to do live rolling, or max out on squats for a few weeks, or do any barbell overhead work, but there is still something you can do to get better. Injuries are blessings and curses. As much as you hate not doing what you love, it might be the only time you dedicate time to work on another weakness in your game.
If you have not been following me on Instagram (@joshuasettlage), or been keeping up with my competitive endeavors, I am competing in the Submission Pro Tour Sacramento Fall Open. As of today I am currently sitting at 11 days out from the competition. In this event I will not be cutting any weight, and will be competing at 181lbs in the white belt division. With any competition, the preparation one makes can directly affect the results of the event or contest. I love training. I love rolling, wrestling, grappling, and lifting weights. I also love to program my own training and tailor it specifically to my needs. Going into this tournament, I knew I need to properly “peak” for this event and come in as fresh and strong as can be. At the GrapplingX tournament I competed in May of this year, I had a great prep, easy weight cut, but felt I came in slightly over trained/under recovered. I felt like I could not produce the force in takedowns, or have the capacity to endure grueling matches, even though I spent a lot of time improving my conditioning. Thankfully I only had three matches, with only one going the distance so my gas tank wasn’t fully tested. Going into this tournament, I want to ensure that I am fully recovered and able to perform my best. Here are some of the tactics I will be implementing to ensure proper recovery.
Sleep is something I am definitely aiming to increase as the contest grows closer. Going into the GrapplingX tournament, I woke up at 4:15am everyday until the Wednesday before where I caught some more Z’s. I love getting up early and training earlier in the morning rather than later, but I came to realize that if I want to perform my best, I need to reevaluate my sleeping habits. Starting three weeks out, I will go from waking up at 3:15-3:30am six days a week to train, to three days a week and the remaining days sleeping in as late as possible to accumulate a total of eight hours of sleep. This also leads into how I will change my weight training…
On the days where I will be waking up between 3:15-3:30am, I will conduct my regular weight training workouts, but with much less volume. Instead of working up to a maximum effort squat and then 3-5 drop sets at 75%, I will just perform the max effort squat, and move on to the accessory work. I also changed the volume on my accessory work. Instead of 10-15 sets of accessory work, it is now between 5-6. Keeping high intensity in my workouts allows me to stay sharp and keep my body loose, without the prolonged recovery time of the high volume training I was doing. The days where I get a full eight hours of sleep, I do not perform any weight training, and focus on pushing the pace at jiu jitsu and getting in extra live rounds. Over the course of the three weight training days, I want to hit the big three (squat, bench, & deadlift) for a heavy single. I will keep this up until two weeks out when I will only work up to 70% of my 1RM for deadlift, but keep squat and bench the same. The week of, it will be light sessions of active recovery work.
My nutrition will remain the same until the contest. I found myself stalling in my body weight, and slightly gaining body fat. I adjusted my macros by slightly decreasing my carbohydrate intake. Since I do not have to cut any weight for this tournament, I can still bulk slowly and focus on building muscle. I am currently following a If It Fits Your Macros approach which works great, but I find a decrease in performance when I chose to get some of my macros from foods of lesser quality. So starting a month out, I will be getting all my macros from quality food sources, the best that I can find. I’ll adjust my macros day to day to see how I’m feeling. If I have a lot of live rounds and am completely spent at the end of training, I might add some carbs back in. That is the beauty of not having to cut weight. I get to eat till I’m satisfied and show up to compete with a full belly.
Those are the three things I will be tweaking with my current programming in preparation for this tournament. After this tournament, I will go back to the full Settlage Size & Strength program and will prepare to compete in Cory Gregory’s Turkey Classic online powerlifting meet. More on that later.
If you are looking for personalized strength and conditioning programming, a customized nutrition, or 1-on-1 training, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more content on training, jiu jitsu, and my personal life, follow me on Instagram, @joshuasettlage.
Labor day weekend is now officially behind us, and the heat waves and summer tournaments are over. Now is the calm between being in the off season, and being deep into the weekly dual meets, tournaments, cold winter and all. As a wrestler, you are the only one responsible for your losses the previous season. There is no one else to blame, but you. As a wrestler, you can not claim credit for any of your wins. Each of your wins last season came from the many contributions both your training partners and coaches invested in you. Although, during the off season, what you do to get better is entirely your responsibility. The summer months are what really separate the JV and Varsity line ups, the divisional competitors, and state placers. During the summer, a wrestler makes a conscious choice whether they want to crush the competition next season or not. They make a choice between being a glutton at every backyard BBQ and hardly gets a wink of sleep, and those who focus on getting stronger, refining technique, and keeping their nutrition in check. What YOU decided to do this summer is what has put you in the position you are in now. It is now the week after Labor Day weekend, back in school, and time to start up pre season training. Here are three things every wrestler who is serious about becoming the best wrestler they can be should be doing right now in this precious preseason.
Keep Getting STRONG.
If you are one of those wrestlers who chose to take advantage of the off season, you most likely spent most of the summer training hard to build a firm foundation of strength to take into next season. Now that it is the pre-season, do not stop now! You still have at least three months before your first tournament. That’s 2 months at the very least to keep lifting heavy and getting as strong as can be. You might have to make sacrifices like skipping weekend parties and late nights to be a good student, and lift for wrestling. You can’t stop now, because there is still work to be done. You do not want to throw away that strength you worked so hard for over the summer. With that being said, now is the time to introduce a little conditioning. Finish out your workouts with some sprint intervals on the track, or sled drags and pushes. You do not need to run a marathon, but something short, fast to start building your engine. A future article will discuss different conditioning finishers for pre-season training. Here is one of the simplest finishers: 20 minutes total of 30s all out sprints, followed by 30s of rest. If you have never done this on a rowing machine, give that a try. You will find what you’re made of on that rower.
If you have not been training this summer to get strong, now is the time to start. Start squatting, deadlifting, and pressing. If you need to know why strength is important to sport and how to perform each lift, refer to last week’s article here. There is a famous saying, “On a hot summer day with no shade, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time to plant a tree is right now.” You should have started doing some sort of structured strength training two weeks after your last match. If you did not, then you better get to the gym and start now.
2) Dial in Your Nutrition:
School has started which means there are no more summer BBQ’s, swim parties, late night hang outs or kickbacks. Now is the time to get your nutrition straight. You want to have your diet locked in BEFORE season starts. Trying to adjust your diet, finding out what foods your body responds well too, and trying to develop new eating habits to make weight in season is very hard. Get your food straight now. It will only make you a better athlete. If you have never seriously eaten clean before. Start with these two simple rules: 1) If it comes from the ground or has a mom, it’s probably good for you. 2) If it has more than three ingredients, it is probably bad for you. Simple as that. Not only will you perform better as an athlete, you will gradually begin to lose excess body fat gained in the summer, thus giving you a better idea of what weight class you can be most competitive in. Learning to properly fuel your body for optimal performance should be done before you begin training for optimal performance.
3) TAKE EVERY CHANCE YOU CAN GET.
For some wrestling programs, not all preseason practices are mandatory. You have to chose to show up to practice. If you are in the middle of football season and/or have commitment to another sport that’s a different story. Although, if you are serious wrestler, you better show up. It’s no secret that the wrestlers who have been to more practices, drilled more tilts, taken more shots, and finished more takedowns at practice are going to out perform you every time. Put in extra work every chance you get. If there’s no practice on Saturday, invite a team mate over, move the couch and coffee table and drill tilts for an hour on the carpet. If there is no one who wants to drill for an hour on a Saturday, move the couch and coffee table and drill your stand up escapes. Getting in 100 perfect reps doesn’t take longer than 10 minutes. Instead of laying on the couch watching TV, watch your matches from last season and take notes (I started doing this when I was a sophomore in high school. Hands down one of the best things I did to become a better wrestler. I still do it to this day with all my jiu jitsu matches.)
I apply this principle in my own jiu jitsu training. All summer I would find someone who would want to show up an hour early to drill transitions and submissions. I usually stay after class to get an extra 30 minutes of live rolls in. When no one wants to get to jiu jitsu early, I go over to my old wrestling team and wrestle with them for an hour before I go to jiu jitsu. On Sundays I drive 30 minutes across town to another jiu jitsu school and get in an hour of live rolling. My game has improved drastically, because of the extra steps I take each week to become better. My next competition is in 46 days and I want to be prepared as I can be. I will take every chance I get to become better. You have 3 months. Get after it.
These are the three things you should be doing right now during this precious preseason. If you are not, start NOW. Not tomorrow, or Monday. TODAY. Begin to build discipline and take advantage of opportunities to become a better wrestler. Next season is a reflection of the work you put in during the offseason and preseason. Get strong, eat clean, and wrestle.